My Brothers Keeper

BTW – I have a real brother but this has nothing to do with him. Let me set the scene – Friday night at the Steer Inn on 589 out side of Ocean Pines Maryland. the Steer Inn is such a great little road house bar with pool tables and Keno for my teacher friends, Live bands for the music fan friends, and always a rotating cast of borderline unsavory characters that give it that gritty road house feel. We were there to see ska band extraordinaire Jackmove, whom I had heard good things about but never seen. BELIEVE the hype, if you like your music upbeat but not pop-ish,infectious beats that you can’t help but to bob to, if you like your slide trombone played like a punk guitar,and of course if you like your first love hip hop served with horns and a heavy helping of organ music these 7 guys from VA beach will blow your doors off. I admit I’m biased, I’ve always been partial to ska music with it’s tongue in check hard core-ness, and energy that matches my own, but my girlfriend who loves the darker side of things and can’t stand most things remotely pop-y said ” i heard death metal at the end there” & that will keep her coming back.
So I’m feeling good cause I’m in my element with a good crew and good music. I strike up a conversation with one of the “borderline unsavories.” “‘Sups” and names are exchanged, his is Erik. Erik is not a big guy and already pretty toasty early in the eve. I think I may have started a conversation with him to make sure he was not a drunken threat, or an annoyance to the good fun. I ask him where he is from and he says
“I got here a couple of days ago”
“Ah well, welcome to the area” I say feigning sincerity and interest “Where were you before that?”
“(pause) Iraq”
My attention and gaze focuses. I wanna say that I recognize his look from the soldiers I’ve met when serving dinner to wounded soldiers at Bethesda Naval. “Erik” i put my hand on his soldier ” I appreciate what you do for me and my family”

I buy him a beer – not that he needed one at that moment but as a small gesture of appreciation. In our drunken conversation,I found out that he has family in the area, had enlisted at 17, been in Iraq on and off for 5 yrs. Is 25 yrs old and and doesn’t have a job yet cause “people don’t wanna hire someone who only knows how to mess people up.” He also used to sing Johnny Cash and Tom Petty in a Band in Iraq. I spent the rest of the night watching out for my brothers keeper, he played pool, he got cut off (probably a good thing, danced with us, I regret that i didn’t see him leave so that I could have put him in a cab. I hope he got home safe. After all, he risked his own life protecting ours, the least very least
I could do was make him feel welcome and ensure a good clean fun life. I got a soft spot for people who serve in the military, especially enlisted kids who sign up before they are even old enough to vote about it. I don’t do politics, I do people.